By Doug Newman

December 1, 2009

Posted at Freedom4um.

Obama is by no means the first president to do the things he is doing. Every president in recent memory has expanded the government and taken away freedom. Obama is doing nothing new or unique.

This includes screwing the military.

I say this in response to the news that three Navy SEALS who captured a most wanted terror suspect in Iraq are now facing assault charges in relation to the capture. Without going into the particulars of the situation, I want to comment on the anger I have seen directed at Obama. I keep hearing that “if only we didn’t have Obama” things would be different for the military.

This isn’t the first time the troops have been screwed.

On September 11, 2001 horrible crimes were committed and those responsible deserved to be punished severely. As horrible as these crimes were, they were not a military invasion by another country, so they did not call for the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Constitution contains a provision for things like this in Article 1, Section 8: a Letter of Marque and Reprisal, which is a sort of warrant to go after the specific perpetrators of things like piracy and terrorism.

But did the Bush Administration follow the Constitution, or did it announce an open-ended war against anyone it designated as a “terrorist”? Did it focus on specific 9/11 suspects, or did it also wage war on nations that never lifted a finger to do any harm to Americans and kill countless innocents?  

The Bush Administration screwed the military when it sent American troops en masse into two unconstitutional wars with no specific objective. American sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than twice as long as they fought in World War II with no end in sight. Any suggestion that the troops be brought home meets with immediate shrieks of outrage by neoconservatives.

The White House announced last week that American troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2017. When in 2017? Unless it is in the first 20 days, these troops will be under the command of another president who may very well have other ideas. American troops will by then have spent 16 years in a landlocked 13th century backwater whose military budget would barely rebuild Yankee Stadium. Screwed by Bush, Obama and – potentially – Obama’s successor, I say.

The troops were being screwed for a long time before Bush. Judge Andrew Napolitano delivered a wonderful address a few years ago on "Civil Liberties During Wartime". From at least the Civil War onward, war has always been used as an excuse to suspend constitutionally protected liberties. Uncle Sam has a long history of sending troops off to “fight for our freedom” while at the same time curtailing freedom here at home.

Major General Smedley Butler spent 33 years in the United States Marine Corps, winning the Congressional Medal of Honor twice. When all was said and done, he proclaimed that "War is a Racket".

Terrorists are criminals and deserved to be treated as such. However, they pose no threat to our freedom. Terrorism is a tactic and not a philosophy of government. Terrorists control no governments and have no armies, so this idea that terrorists can take over America is absurd to say the least. (1) Those in the government and the media who have done the most to whip this country into a war frenzy - most of whom have never served a day in the military - have screwed the troops big time.

“We the people” – i.e. the powers that be according to the Constitution – screw the troops when we say that we will give up our freedom in the interest of victory in this or that war. Ask the average combat veteran why he left home and hearth to charge up Mount Suribachi or wade through the Mekong Delta or crawl from cave to cave in Afghanistan, and he will say he did it for your freedom. And how do you “support” the troops? How do you thank them for their sacrifice? By giving up your freedom? This is not supporting the troops. This is screwing them.

In a constitutional world, which this is not, the military is a dignified profession with a solemn responsibility: defending a nation’s borders and shores. However, militaries do not keep nations free. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia had enormous military establishments, but they were also brutal dictatorships. America has been heading down this same road for several decades. The responsibility for maintaining freedom lies with “we the people.” And when the people willingly surrender their liberty – even temporarily and for whatever reason - no military can defend them. It is very sad when you send your military abroad to fight despotism and then invite it upon yourselves at home.

Obama is a bad guy and a bad president. While he is a problem, he is not the problem. He is a symptom more than anything else. Getting rid of Obama means nothing if his replacement merely perpetuates the welfare-warfare-police state. He too will be screwing the troops, not to mention the rest of us.

(1) Indeed, the whole idea that "radical Islam" is going to take over the world is just as absurd. It has been centuries since a Muslim country conquered a non-Muslim country.

After I had put this piece to bed, I read this headline: "Senate Report: Bin Laden Was 'Within Our Grasp'"

The story began: "Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden was within the grasp of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora in December 2001, but U.S. military leaders decided not to grab him, resulting in the long-term terror war that continues today, a new Senate report says."

OK, so the head of the snake was "within our grasp" but our own military leaders chose not to chop it off. Screwing the troops, anyone?

I could go on.

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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman